Big Changes

Jan 07, 2011


The end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 have been fraught with a lot of thought about for me, as have most of the last 18 months from the idea, to design, to beta, to launch. My goal with the site has always been to offer a better solution for small business owners that would no longer steal hours of their time and try their patience like installed DIY accounting software, and do it in an inexpensive way to give a small or young business a better chance to succeed.

And don’t get me wrong, my hope is also to earn a living, hire a small, talented group of staff that gets compensated fairly, and build a successful business myself. I don’t believe the two concepts are exclusive of each other.

That being said, I have two pieces of news to announce today. The first is that we are dropping our pricing on the existing paid tiers. With the initial pricing for launch, I was trying to prevent backlash against having to increase pricing later when we had more features and more customers. I am guilty of overreaching with our initial pricing and this has hurt the amount of potential customers to our business. It doesn’t help that features have been slow to come to light as I have tried to manage our cash flow by completing contract work for other companies, thereby diverting attention from our own product development.

The second piece of news is potentially much larger for the majority of our small business users. Within a few weeks, will cease the free tier of service, or rather begin to charge for that tier of service. This was not a decision that I came to lightly and I understand the impact this may have on those that have come to rely upon the application in their day to day business dealings. As a small business ourselves, we are trying to find how we fit into the market, where our pricing should be, and how to grow to at least a sustainable position.

Allow me to say right up front, that my intent is not to break the trust that saw you sign-up for a free service as far back as March 2010 and that we will ‘grandfather’ our existing Freelancer tier users for a period of three months when the change is made. If you are using the free tier of service and have been active on the service in the last 60 days, you will continue to have access to the service as it is today for an additional three months without having to pay. Small companies that sign-up after we make the change will be required to subscribe to the service with a free trial period. Existing users will also receive a promo code to lessen the impact when the three months is up.

Quite simply, there was no way of telling who would end up using the system or how until it was up and running. While we have seen over 900 companies activated and signed-up in the system, only a very small number of them have subscribed to a paid tier. While I expected that the majority of users would be on the free tier, the ratio of free to paid is far off my projections and from industry ratios. I also see many small businesses garner their income from only one or two invoices per month, and while making steady income, would never require a paid subscription. While I expected it would take a long while to get a cash flow positive state for myTooq, our current trajectory would see that taking years. Being self funded, we don’t have years, we measure our life in months. And with a mission of helping small businesses succeed, we can only do that if we’re still around. I hope it is understandable that this is not greed, but survival.

Picture owning a very busy restaurant where you had customers come in all day long. Only a couple of them order dinner, drinks and desserts. For everyone else, you decided before you opened that you would give them a free cup of coffee to help promote word of mouth to grow your business. Over time, many will come, but often only for the free coffee. Eventually, even if popular, you end up working very hard only to slowly run out of money to buy the coffee to give it away (not to mention you have pay for staff, rent, utilities and other overhead). Eventually, the business closes and people go back to paying for coffee somewhere else. The easiest way to solve this would be to charge people for the coffee. Some will be angry, storm out and never come back. Some will understand that the free coffee was good while it lasted, but was unsustainable. We have to start charging for our coffee, even if the decision is unpopular.

The pricing drops will become effective immediately while the subscription rates for the Freelancer tier will come into effect in the next couple of weeks. The change will require some work on our end and we need to ensure we are able to grandfather our existing users on the tier. Anyone that happens to sign up for the Freelancer tier between now and then will see a notification that the tier will be require a subscription in the coming weeks and will receive the grandfathered service as well.

For those that wish to leave our service because of this change, and I expect that some will, I will do my very best to make it as easy as possible to leave and take your data with you. We do not currently have a means of creating an export file of your data, but I will personally transfer your information into a .csv format for you with the shortest turnaround time I can manage. If you require an export of data, please get in touch with any of the email addresses on the site and I’ll be in touch to make arrangements.

I must also say a heartfelt thank you to each and every person that has signed up and used our service over the last ten months, and especially to those that have provided feedback and helped to spread the word about our application. I hope this change allows to us stick around for a long time to come and I appreciate your support.

Thanks for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to register your opinion. You can comment below, send me an email or call me (contact info is easily available on the site).


The Updated Pricing:

We have three tiers of service: Freelancer, Small Business and High Growth.

Small Business drops to $8 per month from $14 and $79 per year from $149

High Growth drops to $29 per month from $69 and $249 per year from $599

When the Freelancer tier becomes a paid subscription, it will cost $5 per month or $49 for a full year subscription.

All tiers will come with a two week free trial at the end of which your credit card will be charged the subscription amount unless you unsubscribe from the service.

Category: Product Updates

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